Thursday, August 23, 2007

food processor

"Oh my Stars and Stripes!" That was one of my grandmother's strongest expressions, and one that I like to use to express astonishment. "Oh my Blue and Gold" in Swedish? Hmmm..

I'm getting things ready for the party tomorrow. I decided to make apple pies. Doing the crust is traditionally annoying. I think it was Christy, my sister, who pointed out that pastry cutters exist. I had been using two knives. Blah. Well Clarie has a food processor, and I used that to cut the flour and margarine together. Wow! Oh my Stars and Stripes! That was easy.

I also used it a bit to cut in the water but I think next time I do this I'll start with colder margarine and cut in the water by hand. I don't think the result's going to be that flaky for this batch. Maybe I'll make one and see what happens, then make the other.

Why margarine and not shortening? I couldn't find shortening here. Closest was "bakmargarin". I called Emily, a Brit. In the UK she uses suet (rendered beef fat). The US equivalent is lard (rendered pig fat). Both are good for pie crusts. I've never used it though. Emily uses butter instead. Hmm, when I head over to the store in a bit I'll buy some extra butter too, in case the test pie comes out poorly.

Looking on the web, it looks like pie crust making gives the heebie jeebies to a lot of people. Ignorantly sailing into treacherous baking waters, that's me! And treacherous is a hard word to spell.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Today I turned 37. One year ago I was in South Africa, as well as two years ago.

Living in foreign lands. I remember my 11th grade English teacher talking about Faulkner, and how we are tied to the land. I didn't believe her. But I had never really moved from the land.

It is easy to take a man from his land, but it's hard to take his land from the man. I understand that more now. About a month ago I flew back from Lithuania via Oslo. I did that route in part to scout out the city for the next time. As I walked around I came across the US embassy, with the Stars and Stripes flying high. It was a thrilling moment for me. I am American.

Earlier today I was walking to the bus stop. There was some flattened grass leading to the thicket. My first thought was "oh, that's a path made by the alligators." I am Floridian. A Michigander's first thought would likely be deer. Even after living in Illinois for a few years, my first thought on seeing snow on the ground, in the corner of my eye, was to think "beach sand." My New Jersey friends didn't think sand could be white.

I went to SFI (translates to "Swedish For Foreigners") today to see about which courses I could take through them. I talked with the guy working there and mentioned that my dad and his parents lived in Cuba. He mentioned that there was a Cuban restaurant nearby. Line-of-sight even, and showed me it. So I went there for lunch. It was tremendously exciting to have ropa vieja con moros. I am Miamian.

My birthday party is on Friday. I'm making a roughly south-west themed set of dishes for friends, including chips, salsa and guacamole, chili con carne, tortillas, and margaritas. I am New Mexican by adoption.

Am I also becoming Swedish? Unlike the US, with "{Swedish,Cuban,Irish,German,Chinese}-American", it's only been recently that Sweden has had a large number of immigrants. Turkish-Swede? American-Swede? The only time I've come across terms like that is refering to Swedish Finns vs. Finnish Finns.

My Swedish, by the way, is decent. There are four levels of courses and I place in the 3rd. What I really need to do now I think is work on my vocabulary, probably through reading.

This is salsa night at Oceanen, so I'm off for that. Love to all my family and friends who read this blog.